Fort Laramie bringing Vet Memorial back to life
FORT LARAMIE – No matter the size of a town and no matter the population, there is never an excuse for not paying tribute to our local Veterans.
Whenever one finds themself in a city of millions, or in the quiet peaceful little town of Fort Laramie, it behooves everyone to never overlook the Veterans who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms that we have every single day.
The town of Fort Laramie has always taken tremendous pride in acknowledging the dozens of Veterans that have proudly served in the US Military. Going all the way back to World War II, until as recent as the end of the War in Afghanistan, the small little town of just around 210 people has never ignored a long list of residents who have proudly served.
Although the local City Park Memorial was constructed years ago and has always been a top priority for the town of Fort Laramie, maintenance staff Jared Loveland and Christian Dufresne realized the time had come to upgrade.
As both men discussed openly and in depth, there is no greater respect for our Veterans than to keep their memories alive and well with the best way we know how.
For several weeks now, both Loveland and Dufresne have been tirelessly and carefully removing old worn-out pieces from the Memorial, while adding brand new upgraded pieces of wood and stone.
Both Loveland and Dufresne have also made it a valuable point to properly polish each individual Veteran plaque on display. As convoluted a task as it can be, it ensures the notion that each serviceman whether still with us or not, gets the honorable recognition they deserve.
“Park improvement is how this all came about,” Loveland said. “It had some structural damage the old Veteran’s Memorial, and also had some halfhearted repairs. So, it’s been really nice work for the park. This was our way to say thank you to our Veterans by making them a prettier monument for the sacrifice they have made, not only for our community but for the country as well. We had to remove each plaque, and are now hand polishing all of them to get them ready for the new mount. We are even finding relations and seeing how many of them are in fact related. For a town of just 200 people, we are cleaning over 30 plaque names. I mean that just shows the small-town sacrifice that has been given to the country.”
Although Loveland has strongly benefited the town for several years now as a man of many trades, there is one specific one through years of experience that has benefited this particular project more than any other.
“With my knowledge of masonry for at least 20 years before working for the town, I dropped some plans, got some things together and got approvements for this,” Loveland continued. “The town went after the grant, and we just started getting things together to do it. It was because of the Mainstreet Grant, and I want to give them a huge congratulatory thank you for the money.”
Maintenance staff Dufresne also humbly acknowledged his own deep respect for local Veterans. Dufresne added it was a local Veteran and neighbor who helped not only give inspiration to the project, but has also lent a big hand in ensuring its intricate completion.
“One of my neighbors has a sawmill, and has been a carpenter for 45 years,” Dufresne said. “He wanted to add his gratitude for our Veterans, so he decided he wanted to go and do the insert for the memorial plaques. He got Marine plywood for the backside of it, and milled the rest of the wood out himself. There have been so many people who have fought and served our country for our freedoms. This is a small token to say thank you to that, and thank you to them. It’s cool to see the names on there with so many grandfathers and brothers, and seeing the wars they have all fought in. It’s just going to be the tip of a hat and a nod at the past within our community. Like Jared says, it’s a moment of gratitude for our community, and maybe it will inspire the next generation to take that same pride.”
It should be noted that although both men have been dedicated to bringing back to life the honor and recognition of the monument, they have not been neglectful in keeping up with the endless duties of town maintenance.
All in all when everything is said and finished, according to Loveland all the chaos and effort will have been the right thing to do.
“It’s been difficult to find the time to get this done, but it’s been absolutely worth it,” Loveland said. “You can make a plan in the morning, and by noon your plan can be completely shot. You get calls from the office about a water leak, operations, or other maintenance. Some days are busier than others. You think you have an easy day and you get a game plan going of where you want to be, but by 10 a.m. you’re off doing something completely different. We are always trying to keep the town running, and that’s what we are paid for.
“It is setting forth a monument for people who don’t know, and it’s something very pretty to look at. Without the Mainstreet Grant we wouldn’t be doing this right now. It draws our attention, and it’s about the beautification and acknowledgement of that sacrifice. I believe that’s what I see is the biggest benefit to this.”